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Compassionate Victim Shows Mercy to Teen

Victoria Ruvolo, 45, of Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, was selected as the "Most Inspiring Person of 2005" by Beliefnet, and for good reason. Victoria was driving to her niece's voice recital when she passed another car driven by 19-year-old Ryan Cushing. Cushing was riding with five other teens, and had just used a stolen credit card to go on a spending spree. One of their purchases was a frozen turkey, which Cushing decided to toss into oncoming traffic. The 20-pound projectile smashed through Ruvolo's windshield, crushing her face.

Amazingly, Ruvolo survived, although she spent 10 hours in an operating room while doctors repaired her face. When she finally went home, she brought a tracheotomy tube and endured months of painful rehabilitation.

On October 17, 2005, Ruvolo attended Cushing's sentencing and asked his judge for leniency. Part of her statement read:

"Despite all the fear and the pain, I have learned from this horrific experience, and I have much to be thankful for…. Each day when I wake up, I thank God simply because I'm alive. I sincerely hope you have also learned from this awful experience, Ryan. There is no room for vengeance in my life, and I do not believe a long, hard prison term would do you, me, or society any good."

Cushing, who wept and expressed remorse for his action, was sentenced to six months in jail. He could have gotten a 25-year prison sentence if Ruvolo, his victim, had not intervened.

Ruvolo added:

"I truly hope that by demonstrating compassion and leniency I have encouraged you to seek an honorable life. If my generosity will help you mature into a responsible, honest man whose graciousness is a source of pride to your loved ones and your community, then I will be truly gratified, and my suffering will not have been in vain…. Ryan, prove me right."

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